The UK tour will visit theatres with a personal connection to the actor and performances will encourage audience members to share the stage
The tour begins in January with a two-night run at his local theatre, the Space, in east London. Later dates include Coventrys Belgrade theatre, where he had his first professional job (I stayed a year, on £8.50 a week), Cambridge Arts theatre, where he acted as an undergraduate, and Wigan Little theatre, where he saw his first Shakespeare production as a child.
Sir Ian McKellens big 80th birthday bash in Bolton
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Ian McKellen as Coriolanus at the National Theatre in 1984. Photograph: Alastair Muir/Rex/Shutterstock McKellen will also perform in many theatres for the first time and will tailor his material to each venue. He will visit Above the Stag in Lambeth, south London, because I wanted to make my debut at Londons only LGBT+ theatre. I will include my memories of the first production of Martin Shermans sensational Bent, words from Armistead Maupin and a few surprising gay characters in Shakespeare.
Acting great Sir Ian McKellen to make Ballymena stage debut
He will celebrate his birthday, 25 May, with a show in Bolton, where he grew up and discovered in its three professional theatres, a passion for acting, which has never faded. In the town hall, where my father was borough engineer, Ill feel at home and grateful for all that Bolton nurtured in me.
McKellen will visit the Duke of Yorks theatre in the West End, where he made his London debut in 1964 and recently returned to star in No Mans Land, with Patrick Stewart, and King Lear, which closed earlier this month. He said: It was a joy to return recently for 100 performances of King Lear – or rather 99 performances. We had to cancel one Saturday matinee after my left leg gave way while running to catch a train. Rather than send the audience home, I gave an impromptu solo show with the aid of a chair and a walking stick.
The solo tour concludes at the National Theatres vast Olivier stage, where McKellen has previously starred in Coriolanus, The Real Inspector Hound and a brief solo show about Shakespeare. Being alone on the Olivier stage is a challenge, he recalled. During the second performance, my voice gave way, until restored by some voice exercises flat on my back. For my return … I will be upright and audible.
Profits from the tour will benefit specific causes at each theatre, from technical improvements to community outreach programmes, talent development and, at Billinghams Forum theatre, refurbishments to the bar, where McKellen suggests hell meet audiences after the show.
The actor is set to perform at 80 venues across the UK to mark the occasion, including the Maddermarket Theatre and Norwich Playhouse.
The solo show is called Tolkien, Shakespeare, others…and you! and will be a mix of anecdote and acting, celebrating his countless roles including Gandalf in Lord of the Rings.
The show begins in January 2019 with a tour of London and is coming to the Maddermarket on Friday, March 29 to Saturday, March 30.
Ian made a special request to perform at the venue as he was intrigued by the Shakespearean history of the theatre.
Nugent Monck set up the Norwich Players in 1911, following a successful career in London, and after the First World War he created an Elizabethan style theatre in a converted Catholic Chapel.
The first show at the Maddermarket was As You Like It in September 1921 and by 1933, Monck had achieved his ambition for the group to perform all 37 of his plays.
Sir Ian McKellan will be back again in the city on April 24 to 25 for his debut performance at the Norwich Playhouse.
READ MORE: Everything you need to know ahead of the Norwich Christmas lights switch-onGrowing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and Ive always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself.
Ive always been intrigued by the Maddermarket and its pioneering approach to Shakespeare and am delighted to be at The Playhouse for the first time raising funds for ongoing work with older people at Norwich Playhouse, Theatre Royal and Stage Two.
McKellen last appeared at the Theatre Royal in the critically-acclaimed Waiting For Godot in 2009 opposite Patrick Stewart, Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup, and is also a former patron of the theatre.
Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, added: Ian McKellen is a legend in every sense of the word not just through his acting career on stage and screen but also his passionate commitment to championing various causes, particularly working with younger people.
Tickets for both shows cost £45 and for the Maddermarket go on sale to friends of the theatre at 10am on Friday, November 9 and general sale at 10am on Friday, November 16.
READ MORE: Owner of Cafe Britannia set to takeover Norwich pubYou can purchase tickets for Maddermarket Theatre online or by the box office on 01603 620917 and they will also be running a £10 ticket ballot for students and unwaged with more details to be announced.
Tickets to Norwich Playhouse go on sale at 10am on November 9, with a limit of two per person, and a proportion of tickets will be held-off sale for Playhouse regulars in mid-November.